June 15, 2020

Tethys Knowledge Base Advances Responsible Ocean Energy Development

Guest Blog By: Alicia Gorton, Andrea Copping, and Hayley Farr – Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Offshore wind energy development is just beginning to make progress in the United States, and as this new industry takes off, data regarding potential effects of offshore wind development on marine organisms, habitats, and ecosystem processes are needed to help inform project permitting and siting. Effective and responsible offshore wind project development will be aided by a better understanding of potential environmental effects of offshore wind turbines and the available strategies to mitigate those effects, informed by research conducted to date throughout the world.

MassCEC’s Offshore Wind program works to advance the responsible development of renewable offshore wind energy in the Commonwealth, and understanding the interplay between offshore energy and ocean ecosystems is essential to mitigating impacts on our oceans. In an effort to provide a clearinghouse for information at the intersection of offshore wind and the environment, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) developed and actively curates Tethys. Named for the Greek Titaness of the sea, this platform provides a publicly accessible, online knowledge base that facilitates the exchange and dissemination of information on the environmental effects of wind (land-based and offshore) and marine renewable energy (such as wave and tidal).

Tethys houses, organizes, and makes available thousands of peer-reviewed documents, technical reports, and other media for use by researchers, project developers, regulators, consultants, and other stakeholders. The platform also provides descriptions of the key environmental concerns, a central location for archived webinars, an events calendar, links to related databases, contact information for key individuals and organizations working in this field, and many other resources intended to support the growing wind and marine renewable energy communities. Tethys is jointly sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Wind Energy Technologies Office and Water Power Technologies Office.

PNNL maintains active outreach and engagement to ensure that Tethys’ many resources are up to date, easily accessible, and informative. Most notably, the Tethys Blast is a bi-weekly online newsletter sent to over 1,900 active subscribers that highlights new publications in the Tethys Knowledge Base; relevant announcements, opportunities, and upcoming events; and news articles of international interest. Tethys also acts as a collaborative outreach and engagement platform on which the International Energy Agency’s WREN (Working Together to Resolve Environmental Effects of Wind Energy) initiative’s activities are coordinated, recorded, and made accessible.

After nearly ten years of operation, Tethys is internationally recognized and viewed as a trusted broker of information, with over 145,000 visitors in the past year alone. By ensuring that data and information are widely available, Tethys facilitates the knowledge sharing needed to advance the offshore wind energy industry’s development in an environmentally responsible manner.